Supporting the Euromaidan Movement in Ukraine

January 23rd, 2014

Along with many others in the New York community, I am following the somber situation in Ukraine with growing alarm.

Last August, I was honored to be part of the dedication of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s Resurrection Cathedral, in Kiev, and was in awe at the youth and vitality of a Church that had been starved, jackbooted, imprisoned, tortured, persecuted and martyred by Hitler, Stalin, and company.  With thousands of others, I praised God for an apparent new springtime where Democracy, human rights, and religious freedom were in bloom in Ukraine.

Those high summer hopes have now turned as cold as this New York winter day.  What began as inspirational, prayerful, peaceful, powerful protest, dubbed the Euromaidan Movement, characterized by prayer and song led by Jewish, Orthodox, and Catholic clergy, has turned brutal and nasty, with government thugs relishing the chance to bludgeon and harass the hundreds of thousands of patriotic Ukrainians, and oppressive laws quickly passed to suppress freedoms.

Two men I deeply admire — the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kiev, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, and Bishop Borys Gudziak, one of the founders of the promising Catholic University of Ukraine — keep in touch.  They’ve been leaders urging peace and restraint, while prophetic on behalf of human dignity, civil rights, and the place of religion in the reconstruction and renewal of Ukraine.  They are near tears, and look in vain for allies in their noble cause.

We Catholics in the United States cannot let these brave Ukrainians, whose allegiance to their religious convictions has survived “dungeon, fire, and sword,” languish.  They deserve our voices and our prayers.

Nor can we as American citizens fail them, as we call for our government to stand with them.

Respecting Life in New York

January 21st, 2014

Sunday is always colorful, interesting, and inspirational at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as thousands from all over the world crowded in for prayer, to light a votive candle, or to worship at one of a dozen Masses.

Last Sunday seemed even more so.  I started the day meeting the leadership of our Knights of Columbus, the largest volunteer organization in the country.  We spoke about our common efforts to protect the innocent, fragile life of the baby in the womb, but also about their sterling work to assist poor, mostly immigrant children attend our first-rate inner city Catholic schools, and their touching initiatives on behalf of our “special kids” with physical and mental challenges.

It was frigid outside as I processed to the Cathedral for 10:15 Mass, and I noticed a larger than usual number of police officers.  When I asked why, I was told that a Fundamentalist sect had warned that they would protest in front of St. Patrick’s, to blast the Church for being “gay-friendly,” for welcoming people with same-sex attractions, and for the teaching of the catechism that gays were God’s children, with an inherent right to dignity and respect.  Nothing new – – these fringe folks had picketed us before.

Sunday’s was a special “Right-to-Life” Mass, penance for the tragedy of abortion on demand, and recommitment to the civil right to life for the baby in the womb.  The Knights were there, as mentioned earlier, and the Mass as SRO with others in the pro-life movement.  The Sisters of Life were there, for instance, with mothers and their babies who had gotten through a “problem pregnancy” with the sisters’ love.  A high school basketball team from California, on their way to a championship game, then to D.C. for the renowned March for Life on Wednesday were there, and there was the police officer, his wife, three other children, and their new baby, whom I would have the joy of christening after Mass.  That beautiful new baby had Down’s Syndrome, reason enough for an abortion, as 90% of such babies are aborted, in this culture Pope Francis calls “throwaway.”  Not for this loving family!

After the moving Mass, back out to the cold, in yet another “Pro Life” project, the Feeding Our Neighbor initiative, sponsored by Catholic Charities and the United Jewish Appeal.  Last year, 900,000 meals were provided the hungry by the food donated in parishes and synagogues last Sabbath and next.

A reporter asked if the scheduling of the event had anything to do with the Birthday of Reverend Martin Luther King.  I replied that the date was chosen since it’s the coldest time of the year; when a lot of the food donated at Christmas had already run out; because it was close to the January 22nd Respect Life observance, and to feed the hungry was sure pro-life; and, yes, because Reverend King preached the Bible, that all are God’s children, made in his image and likeness, and that wherever life was threatened – – violence, poverty, hunger, discrimination, abortion – – God’s People defend it.

On the way back into the Cathedral, I greeted many of the great folks from the Dominican Republic, now proud New Yorkers, jamming St. Patrick’s for their feast of “Our Lady of Altagracia.”  I know so many of them as Catholics active in immigration reform, pro-life, curbing of gun-violence in their neighborhood, and keeping our inner-city schools open for their kids.

A good Sunday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral . . .does any of this seem “extremist” to you?

Ways to Love the Poor with Pope Francis

January 14th, 2014

Pope Francis is an excellent teacher.  He’s a classical Jesuit, and has himself taught in high school (chemistry and literature, I hear) in Argentina.

An effective pedagogue sets a few clear goals for his class.  “Professor” Francis sure has done so for the Church, for the world, for all God’s children.

Among his goals is a call to love and serve the poor.  No surprise, since this is a clear, clean goal of Jesus in the gospels.

This month of January presents us a chance to grow in our love and service of the poor.

January 20th is the birthday of the Reverend Martin Luther King, a man admired by Pope Francis, a man prophetic in his summons to racial justice and equal opportunity for the poor.

Then, January 22 is the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn Baby.  Is anyone more vulnerable, more fragile, more in need of love, care, and protection than the unborn baby in her mother’s womb?

January 26 – February 2 finds us again in the Feeding Our Neighbor Campaign, as we come together in the cold to collect food to stock our shelters, soup kitchens, and parish pantries, responding to the Lord who said, “When I was hungry you gave me to eat.”

And, January 26 – February 1 is Catholic Schools Week.  The experts tell us that one of the tried-and-true ways of helping the poor escape a trapped-life is by educating the children in one of our excellent Catholic schools.  They’re really the best “War on Poverty” programs around.

Not bad messages — from Jesus and Pope Francis — this first week of the year.

ArchCare: An Innovative Approach to Catholic Healthcare

January 13th, 2014

Healthcare in our country is in a state of turmoil. While there are many areas of concern, what troubles me the most is the inaccurate perception that Catholic healthcare in our country and, especially here in New York, is in retreat.

True, we have seen the closings of numerous Catholic hospitals in our area, and, sadly, just a few weeks ago another Catholic facility, Saint Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, filed for bankruptcy after a long financial struggle. While Saint Francis was not affiliated with the archdiocese, the potential loss of yet another Catholic institution is still troubling to us as Catholics. I am sure this is a very difficult time for the wonderful Sisters of St. Francis, who have so ably tended the sick there for nearly a century.

These negative headlines should not obscure all the great things that are happening in Catholic healthcare across the Archdiocese of New York. Our archdiocesan healthcare ministry, ArchCare, today is serving more people than ever, and has grown in ways we never could have imagined just a few years ago, when changing health policy and plummeting government reimbursements made the outlook far from certain.

The genius of the Church is that we have always been able to adapt our ministry to meet the needs of society. In the last two years alone, ArchCare has modernized and expanded its rehabilitation centers and opened two new community-based care centers that deliver all the services needed to keep seniors out of nursing homes. We introduced an array of healthcare plans that coordinate members’ every care need, created a new Assisted Living Program, and took steps to expand our palliative care and hospice services. Through its sponsorship of Empire State Home Care, one of the region’s oldest and most respected home care providers, ArchCare now provides top quality home care for infants through elders throughout the five boroughs and Westchester. As part of our efforts to bring still more of our Catholic services to the northern counties, we have already expressed interest in acquiring Saint Francis’ home care unit.

Our healthcare ministry continues to care for nearly 2,000 elders in five nursing homes. In addition, we care for the elderly in nine religious orders, significantly reducing their financial burden of caring for retired members and freeing funds to reinvest in their Catholic missions. And ArchCare’s renowned centers for people with HIV and Huntington’s disease, children with profound neurological impairments, and developmentally disabled children and adults all were established to fill critical gaps in care in our community. Where others said, “We can’t,” we as Catholics said, “We can, and we will!”

As our society continues to struggle with all the changes taking place in healthcare, I am pleased to tell you that the Catholic health ministry of the Archdiocese of New York is strong. While there have been changes in some of our programs, our creative care of the sick in the name of Jesus, the Divine Physician, will continue in fresh, innovative ways long into the future. I encourage you and your families to explore all that ArchCare has to offer.

Insight from the New York Post

December 18th, 2013

Today the New York Post published an editorial on Judge Brian Cogan’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act. I would like to share it with you.

Here is an excerpt:

For a while it looked as though the president had got the best of the cardinal.

Two years ago, Timothy Cardinal Dolan left an Oval Office meeting believing he had President Obama’s word that his health-care regulations would respect the conscience rights of religious organizations. A few weeks later, the president phoned to say the Department of Health and Human Services was going ahead with a mandate requiring even church groups to underwrite insurance that paid for birth control, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs.

Now a court has just handed the cardinal a big victory — and the president a huge defeat. In a landmark ruling, Judge Brian Cogan of the Eastern District of New York not only found that the president’s mandate violates religious freedom, he issued the first permanent injunction against it.

You can read the whole editorial here.

Insight from the New York Daily News

December 17th, 2013

I recently came across two insightful opinion pieces in the New York Daily News this week, that I would like to share with you.

On Sunday, Dr. George Mussalli, a former chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Vincent’s Hospital- Manhattan, wrote an excellent op-ed on how Catholic healthcare actually does more to truly support  women.

Here is an excerpt:

The ACLU suit is clearly not about medical care. It is an unfortunate attempt to target Catholic health-care facilities writ large — which, if successful, would endanger one-sixth of all hospital beds in America, including the only hospital in Muskegon, where Means might need future care.

Catholic hospitals are open to all: the uninsured, the unborn, the undocumented, those of all cultures, creeds or no creed at all. If forced to make a terrible choice between participating in abortions and closing, I fear that still more Catholic hospitals will choose to close. With Americans struggling to find dignified access to health care, that’s the last thing we need.

Click here to read the whole column.

This morning, the New York Daily News published an editorial on Judge Brian Cogan’s excellent ruling on religious freedom. You may have seen the Archdiocese of New York’s statement yesterday about Judge Cogan’s decision.

Here is an excerpt from the editorial:

Three federal appeals courts have reached conclusions similar to Cogan’s, in challenges to Obamacare’s contraception mandates filed by profit-making companies whose owners conduct their businesses according to religious principles. Two additional appeals panels have dismissed such claims on the ground that corporations cannot hold religious views. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the issue.

The one-size-must-fit-all structure of Obamacare explains why the President wound up breaking his pledge that Americans could keep their health coverage if they like it. He ordered up new provisions for everyone, so the policies people liked went over the side.

Here, forced uniformity has pitted the President against a basic tenet of life in these United States. Not where he should be.

To read the whole editorial, click here.

St. Nicholas Project

December 16th, 2013

This past weekend, I was pleased to help Catholic Charities with their annual St. Nicholas Project. I joined Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan , New York Catholic Charities’ Junior Board and hundreds of volunteers shop for clothing and blankets at Kmart, which will given to 2,500 individuals and over 650 families in need so that they may stay warm throughout the winter season.

Photos by Chris Sheridan

Picking out pajamas to be donated

Finding a warm scarf

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan shops for families in need

A War For Women

December 12th, 2013

In this week’s Catholic New York columnI wrote about Our Lady of Guadalupe and the importance of women in the Catholic Church.  I thought you might want to read it.

Here is an excerpt:

If there is a “war on women,” those who defend the bond of marriage and the sanctity of the family (realizing that women are the ones usually left shattered and financially strapped by shattered marriages); those who believe that abortion is destructive of baby, mother, and father; those who hold that all God’s children, male and female, are made in God’s image, and thus deserve dignity and respect; those who sacrifice to run the world’s most effective projects of health care and education for women (led, for the most part, by generous, faithful women); and those thought idolatrous for placing a woman named Mary at the center of history, are hardly on the wrong side, but the right side, of such an alleged battle!

In two weeks, 75 percent of the world will come to a stop to celebrate a mother and the birth of her baby. Millions of children will point to the newborn baby in nativity scenes throughout the world and ask, “Who’s that?” and parents and grandparents will whisper, “That’s Jesus, our Lord and Savior.” Then they’ll point to Mary and inquire, “And who’s that?” and the answer will come, “That’s His mother, without whom Christmas could not have happened.”

A blessed Advent!

You can read my whole column here.

Statement on Pope Francis as Time “Person of the Year”

December 11th, 2013

This morning I was delighted to learn that His Holiness, Pope Francis was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.”  Let me share with you my statement that I released to the press:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 11, 2013

STATEMENT OF CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN ON POPE FRANCIS AS TIME “PERSON OF THE YEAR”
The election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the successor of Saint Peter seemed to surprise many who had not yet heard of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. While he may have been unknown at the time, since he first appeared on the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica on that chilly, wet evening of March 13, Pope Francis has captivated the world, as he preaches the Gospel and shares its messages of the love and mercy of God, our responsibility to care for our sisters and brothers in need, and the ever present invitation of Jesus and His Church to “come and see.” Just like Blessed Pope John Paul II was in 1995, Pope Francis has been named Time’s “Person of the Year” for presenting the Church’s timeless truths to today’s world. In all that he does, through his humble ways and simple lifestyle, Pope Francis clearly radiates the joy that comes from loving God and caring for his people. There could be no finer choice for “Person of the Year.”

In Memoriam: Nelson Mandela

December 5th, 2013

Today I learned that Nelson Mandela, former South African president and a hero to all, had passed away. Here is the statement that I released to the press:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 5, 2013

STATEMENT OF CARDINAL DOLAN ON THE PASSING OF NELSON MANDELA

Nelson Mandela was a hero to the world. His bravery in defending human rights against the great evil of apartheid made him a symbol of courage and dignity, as well as an inspiration to people everywhere. As Blessed Pope John Paul II noted during his visit to South Africa in 1995, Nelson Mandela was for many years, “a silent and suffering ‘witness’ of your people’s yearning for true liberation,” who, as President of South Africa, had to then “shoulder the burden of inspiring and challenging everyone to succeed in the task of national reconciliation and reconstruction.” In succeeding in these crucial and difficult tasks, Nelson Mandela truly made the world a better place.

May he rest in peace.